What is Diamond Clarity?
Diamond clarity is the measure of flaws found in and on the outside of a diamond. The less flawed a diamond is, the more value it has and the higher the price tag. There are very few diamonds which can be categorized as having no flaws at all, however, most diamond flaws cannot be seen without magnification of at least 10 times. Because issues with diamond clarity are often undetected when looking at a diamond, some people consider this to be one of the least of their concerns when selecting a diamond to purchase.
How is Diamond Clarity Determined?
The most well known measurement of diamond clarity is done by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It ranks diamonds based on a grading system it created that ranges from flawless diamonds, to imperfect diamonds, with many different grade ranges in between. The better the clarity ranking, the more expensive a diamond will sell for as it has more value.
Types of Inclusions that Effect Diamond Clarity
Inclusions are flaws that effect diamond clarity. They make it so that the diamond is not “perfect”, and there are visual imperfections within the gemstone. Most flaws however, are un-noticeable to the naked eye and can only be seen under high levels of magnification.
There are names for many of the most common inclusions. Carbons effect diamond clarity because they are very small black dots found on the surface of a diamond, which may or may not be visible in regular lighting. Some may be so small that you need magnification to view them. Pinpoints effect diamond clarity because they are white dots along the surface of a diamond. Pinpoints are the most common of all diamond flaws. Clouds effect diamond clarity because they cause what look to be cloudy areas within the gemstone. The clouds are actually made up of many growths of crystals that are positioned very close together within the diamond, and their proximity to one another is what causes the cloudiness to appear. Feathers effect diamond clarity by causing cracks to form within the diamond, that look similar to that of broken glass.
Diamond clarity flaws can often be fixed or reduced by using a variety of clarity enhancement treatments. Some diamonds are painted, some get lasered in order to remove pinpoints and carbons, and some diamonds undergo a process by which tiny holes are drilled into the diamond in order to reach areas of inclusions within the gemstone, and then the cracks are later filled with molten glass. Having enhancements done to improve diamond clarity decreases the overall value of the diamond, but can improve it's appearance. Diamond certificates should indicate that enhancements were done on the diamond, so ask to see documentation before making a purchase. While most enhancements just cause the diamond to look nicer, some may actually cause the diamond to be weaker, and more prone to breakage than a diamond that has not had any treatments.